LONDON — The International Olympic Committee is putting up $20 million to fight doping and match-fixing – considered the two biggest threats to the credibility of the games.
New IOC President Thomas Bach announced the funding projects Saturday following an unprecedented four-day “brainstorming session” with his executive board in the Swiss resort of Montreux that focused on key issues for the future of the Olympics.
Bach, who was elected in September to succeed Jacques Rogge as president, has moved quickly to set his own course for the IOC and push what he calls the “Olympic Agenda 2020.”
He said the board agreed to create a $10 million fund to pay for research into developing new and improved techniques for catching drug cheats. The IOC is asking national governments to contribute the same amount to the World Anti-Doping Agency for its own research projects.
Also, the IOC is setting up a $10 million fund “to protect the clean athlete from any kind of manipulation or related corruption,” a reference to match-fixing and illegal betting.
The IOC will sign a memorandum of understanding in early 2014 with the international police agency Interpol and set up a special monitoring program – the “Integrity Betting Intelligence System” – to check for any irregularities at the Olympics.
Bach said the IOC wants to investigate whether there are more reliable and effective methods than standard urine and blood tests, citing testing of hair or cell samples among the possibilities.
“It would be very helpful if there would be another test method where we could find prohibited substances for a longer time,” Bach said in a conference call. “This is an issue we want to address in particular.”
The initiative comes at a time when the IOC is retesting doping samples from the 2006 Turin Olympics with an improved steroid detection method. The Turin results should be completed in the coming days, with athletes facing possible retroactive disqualification and loss of medals.
The IOC board also took addressed the issue of “legacy” in Olympic host cities, deciding to set up a working group on “cost management” for the games. The move comes amid increasing scrutiny over the high costs of staging the Olympics – including the record $50 billion price tag for the Sochi Games.
With six cities submitting bids last month for the 2022 Winter Games, Bach said the IOC is asking them to make the broadest use possible of temporary venues or facilities that can be dismantled. The bid cities are Oslo; Stockholm; Lviv, Ukraine; Beijing; Krakow, Poland; and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The board also decided to showcase three new sports in next year’s Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China – roller sports, skateboarding and sport climbing. All three have failed in bids for inclusion in the full Olympics.
Bach has said the Youth Games – which debuted in 2010 in Singapore – could be a testing ground for sports seeking to join the Olympics.
Bach said he is looking for more flexibility in the sports program, and reiterated that baseball and softball could still be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Other sports could be brought in by trimming existing disciplines.
On another issue, the IOC took a first step toward possible creation of an Olympic TV channel, commissioning a feasibility study by the Olympic Broadcasting Services. Such a channel would broadcast Olympic sports during the years between the games, giving lower-profile sports a chance to promote themselves and reach a wider audience.
The IOC board also used the Montreux retreat to talk about potential changes to the Olympic sports program, the bidding process, the 70-year age limit for IOC members and other issues — changes that would require approval by the full IOC.
Bach declined to give details on those discussions, saying those issues will come up for debate at the IOC general assembly in Sochi in February. Proposals and recommendations will be drawn up and submitted for approval at an extraordinary IOC session on Dec. 6-7 in Monaco.
“It was very good for me to see on the principle issues there is broad consensus within the executive board,” Bach said. “They were receptive to changes on all the issues.”